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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Glucocorticoid receptor binding and activation of a heterologous promoter by dexamethasone by the first intron of the human growth hormone gene.

In this study DNA-binding and gene transfer experiments were performed to examine a potential glucocorticoid regulatory element (GRE) in the human growth hormone gene. As assayed by nitrocellulose filter binding, only two regions of the human growth hormone gene, the 5'-flanking sequences and a fragment containing part of the first intron, were retained preferentially by purified glucocorticoid-receptor complexes. The relative binding by the transcribed sequences was three times greater than the relative binding by the 5'-flanking sequences, but less than the relative binding by a fragment containing the human metallothionein-IIA gene GRE. The intron, but not the 5'-flanking sequences, generated a "footprint" when the receptor complex was used to protect the segments against exonuclease III digestion; the protected sequence spanned nucleotides +86 to +115 in the first intron and contained a structure homologous in 14 of 16 nucleotides to a 16-nucleotide consensus GRE. The hexanucleotide 5'-TGTCCT-3', thought to be important for GRE activity, not only was found in this sequence and in the 5'-flanking region, but also was present twice in the 3' end of the gene that did not show specific receptor binding. The latter results suggest that the hexanucleotide alone is not sufficient to generate specific receptor binding tight enough to be assayed in this way. To test the biological activity of the intron binding site, a fragment containing these sequences was fused 5' to the human metallothionein-IIA gene promoter depleted of its GRE and linked to the structural sequences of the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase ( TK) gene. When this hybrid gene was transfected into Rat 2 TK- cells, its expression was induced threefold by the glucocorticoid dexamethasone, as assessed by transfection efficiency and RNA blotting analyses. Expression of the same gene without the human growth hormone gene segment was not affected by the steroid, whereas the wild-type human metallothionein-IIA gene promoter containing its GRE responded to the hormone by a sixfold increase in thymidine kinase mRNA. These results indicate that the human growth hormone gene contains a structure within its first intron that can function as a GRE.[1]


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